Friday, 17 April 2009
Seems that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Health Minister Nicola Roxon and Human Services Minister Joe Ludwig think it's a beaut idea to have faceless Medicare bureaucrats trawling through the local doctor's patient records just in case he or she is trying to defraud the Commonwealth.
Matching everything (from that brush with the kid's head lice, those uncomfortable haemorrhoids, that dose of the clap, problem with alcohol or recent unplanned pregnancy) to a Medicare billing form with your name on it within 2 years of the date on the audit notice.
But that's not all!
The local hospital, medical specialists and corporate practices can also be asked to hand over your medical records on demand, as well as aboriginal health workers; audiologists; clinical psychologists; diabetes educators; dieticians; exercise physiologists; mental health nurses; occupational therapists; psychologists; socialworkers; and speech pathologists.
Wait there's more!
Not only does Medicare get to look at all those medical records - it gets to take away and keep the originals.
Which means that your confidential records are in yet another government data base.
The doctor's solicitor can also obtain a copy of removed records, so there's yet another person keeking at your maladies.
As to which practitioners will be audited - well it's all a bit of a lottery really because at the moment the government is sorta promising (with fingers crossed behind a few backs) that there will only be 2,500 of these snooping expeditions each year.
Retaining any form of patient confidentiality? Well it's easy to recall those times when Centrelink staff or police officers have been caught out snooping on relllies or selling information from government data bases.
Joe Ludwig expects to have this hunt 'n' hound firmly in place by July this year.
If you want to have a say in all this go to this page on the Department of Health and Aging website for details of the draft legislation which turned up very quietly last Thursday.
You have under 24th April to make a submission.